Michael Phelps: The Missing Argument

04 Feb


I don’t like marijuana. Not because it offends my morality but because I can’t stand the smell of it. I once told a friend of mine that I’d never quite understood the term “sweet smell of decay” until I went to college and all the potheads came crawling out of the couches. Phew!

Besides, the one time I tried it, I didn’t get buzzed nor did it make me feel good or relaxed or any of those things weed is supposed to do for you. All it did was give me the munchies – for that applesauce in a hot pocket that McDonald’s calls apple pies – and given I lived right above a McDonald’s that stayed open late and actually delivered… high or no high, it didn’t take me more than a couple of seconds to realize my very Indian butt didn’t need help of that sort, thanks muchly.

But in all fairness, I must admit that while marijuana-users frequently made me wrinkle my nose when they, er, wafted too close and I have been guilty on occasion of speculating on their personal hygiene standards, that whole slacker on the verge of a downward spiral image has never rung true for me. The potheads I know are pretty much the same as all the other people I know: they’re mostly articulate, curious, have hardly ever experimented with hard drugs, pull down good grades / are successful at their chosen careers, and are generally pleasant people (because the other kind annoy me). They just, you know, have an interesting aroma around them sometimes.

So when the Michael Phelps story hit the headlines, I waited for someone to say: “Hey, isn’t that guy the fastest man in water? The most amazing swimmer on the planet? Didn’t he set a world record for the greatest number of gold medals ever won by a single individual at the Olympics? Huh, he sure doesn’t look like one of those slackers they keep telling me about.”

But nope. I’ve read all about how this is so natural for a 23 year old and how funny it all is, speculation whether his lung capacity means he gets high faster than everyday potheads, the possibility that he could be charged by the police, about Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s imminent breakdown, and most interestingly (even Ramesh Ponnuru agrees this is an interesting way to look at it, is how interesting this particular POV is), how his great sin was not that he smoked an illegal substance but that smoking weed is against his very profitable image. In fact, his endorsement deals appear to be an overwhelming consideration to a lot of people, from the looks of a cursory Google search.

Bizarrely, Hasselbeck might be the one who’s come closest to my own feelings on the issue – even if she’s approaching it from the opposite end of the spectrum. Because think about it: how can you demonize weed when “The Greatest Olympian Ever” (remember those headlines? Who’s sorry now?) can smoke it and still win crazy numbers of medals and have a body like that?

It’s one thing to sneer at the likes of Brad Pitt (really, what has he ever done, the silly Hollywood man with the pretty, pretty face?) and the rest of the Ocean‘s gang but what are you going to do when someone like Phelps does it? Especially when you’ve probably spent the past few months extolling his virtues to the brats?

We’re a long way from any parents telling their kid that they too can grow up to be like Phelps if they can get their hands on some good quality grass a la Wheaties, but from the sound of it, not only does is marijuana not a deterrent to a successful career in sports, but a standard part of it. In fact, it seems to be rather common amongst successful people in general even if Dr. Sanjay Gupta is against it. So if somebody did want to make the argument that smoking weed is good for you…

By the way, remember all those stories about Phelps eating eleventy million calories a day? Munchies!


Posted by on February 4, 2009 in Celebrity, Life, News, Personal


14 responses to “Michael Phelps: The Missing Argument

  1. M

    February 4, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Er…not sure why you think looking at his endoresements is a strange POV – most sportspeople seem to stay in the public eye for their endorsements, rather than their sportsmanship…and yes, it seems fiscally stupid thing to do, to me – 23 isn’t really very young, IMO, that kind of silliness is strictly associated with the teens for me!

    Ganja in India was relatively easily available, (usual purveyors being the bhel/channa/bhutta guy outside the gates) but as a lifelong asthmatic it irritated me even more than cigarette smoke, so used to yell at friends who smoked in my presence 🙂


  2. shweta

    February 4, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    oh dear- I guess I wont become famous ever 😦 I’ve tried grass- 6 joints to be precise, in succession one after the other, and have walked awy with ZERO high- not even munchies 😦 boo
    its unfair. i wanna b famous too 😛

  3. Gagan

    February 4, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Kurt vonnegut had a great rant in one of his novels about thinking in terms of ” issues”

    this seems like an ” issue” to me. phelps is young…has lots of reserve and plenty of time before the damage kicks in.. off course he could do both at the same time, ie be god in the pool and partake. training like that is mind warping …sure it helped him

    just one of those things…avoiding the bulge seems like the most honest reason to abstain that i know of 🙂

    don’t know any of the loser stories in my crowd either but they must be out there, hey or it wouldn’t be illegal and so hard to get hold of right hehe

    our own ross regliabutti won the first ever snowboarding gold medal in the olympics.. and tested for THC..he claimed 2nd smoke and got to keep his medal..hey its true…snowboarding parties u can just get high on the atmosphere hehe 🙂

    ok enough flag waving from me

  4. Gagan

    February 4, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    oh i forgot…

    I think Dr Sanjay Gupta could do with a few snowboarding parties ..dude needs to chill out some

  5. complicateur

    February 4, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Why is no one even considering this possibility [presented in SAT analogy format to reinforce the high-school/collegiate Mary Jane affliction stereotype]:

    Spinach:Popeye::Weed:Michael Phelps.

    Think about it. Maybe we can nickname him Michael “C-weed” Phelps!

  6. complicateur

    February 4, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Damn spoilsport emoticons..

    spinach : popeye :: Weed:Michael Phelps

  7. Adi

    February 5, 2009 at 6:16 am

    Whoa!! So many of these hollywood guys smoke pot!!! Wat abt our own desis?? I can imagine SRK saying to Johar “Ganja abhi baaki hai mere dost” and Johar giving his gay smile… only experience wid pot has been really wierd…we were watching king kong and smoking pot…and I actually felt that I am king kong….and I actually wanted to kill everyone…and I actually tried wearing 3 pairs of boots and a couple of slippers so tht I could stamp them…

  8. desigirl

    February 5, 2009 at 8:41 am

    weed = munchies?

    is that why am stuffing my face so? flippin’ ‘eck! sounds cooler than “preggie lard”!

  9. Amey

    February 5, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Damn… now we “clean” people cannot even feel morally superior. I mean, try feeling superior while looking at a cupboard full of gold medals. Only a “high” person can do that.

  10. bollyviewer

    February 5, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    No wonder I wasnt any good at sports. It was the weed that was missing…

  11. Amrita

    February 5, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    M – well, sure re: the value of endorsements, but that op-ed was basically asking that he be punished for not being a decent hypocrite like he’s supposed to be. Which to me is a remarkable thing to say. You’d think a guy advocating hypocrisy would know enough to practice it himself.
    I’m not surprised that he’s 23 and doing stuff that a teen would do – athletes of that stature are all a little stunted because they’ve spent so much time on one thing.

    Shweta – do it at home and you’ll instantly be famous! I guarantee it! 😀

    Gagan – well, tell me how you really feel! 😀 I’ve heard about your Canadian snowboarders! And your Canadian ice hockey players. Hmmm.

    Complocateur – hahahah, that image is not going to go away easily now.

    Adi – I would love it if SRK and KJo smoked up and released the film of it! Anyway, G is legal in India (certain parts anyway) so they might as well.

    DG – preggie lard?! EW, girl! Just call it baby fat, sounds normal that way.

    Amey – or a really drunk person. Try it at home!

    BV – It’s those silly school people, they never tell you the tricks of the trade,

  12. Mamma Mia! Me a Mamma?!?

    February 5, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    Swimming/training for the body.
    Weed for the mind/sanity?

    Tried it twice myself. The first time I felt supremely intellectual and my friend and I had a highly stimulating discussion before passing out. We woke up laughing! The second time, blah, nothing happened.

  13. Prasanth

    February 6, 2009 at 5:23 am

    Of all the arguments I found the ‘failed his responsibility’ argument the most annoying. As Robert Ludlum 😉 once wrote, “The sanctimonious are the greatest hypocrites”.

    Although I would love to imagine what would happen if Sania Mirza were caught smoking pot. A public apology for shaming Indian culture?


  14. Amrita

    February 9, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Mamma – Weed makes you strong like a weed!

    Prasanth – Indian athletes can always claim they’re upholding Indian culture given the widespread use of marijuana by religious folks!

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